Thursday, February 11, 2010

I believe in reincarnation

Reheating a plate of last night's leftovers seems to me to be some sort of karmic penance for yesterday's excess. Boring and never as good as the first time around (with a few noteworthy exceptions), I'd almost rather not eat. But transfigure those leftovers to something bigger, better.... well now you've captured my interest. For example, the cake in the picture is filled with leftover chestnut puree that had been taking up real estate in my freezer way too long. I felt very clever when I pulled out individual slices of it for my house guests last week.

I had my work cut out for me this week. I threw an opera party last weekend, and per the usual made, oh, ten times the food I needed. The job ahead of me, to reincarnate the party leftovers, was almost overwhelming even for me. But I did well, if I do say so myself, and now my freezer is bursting with tasty treats and quick meals that I look forward to enjoying over the next few weeks.

The party menu was as follows:
  • Pastry spirals filled with either ham/cheese or sweet potato/caramelized onion
  • Crostini with toppings: carrot salad, garlicky greens, sagey tuscan white beans, mushrooms with white wine and cream
  • One bad ass artichoke dip
  • The usual cheese nut and fruit board
  • Greek platter with hummous, dressed feta, tapenade, pita
  • Meatballs adobada (the goal was a no-silver ware party)
  • Dark chocolate truffles with the barest hint of cinnamon and ancho chile
  • Little "finger sandwiches" of cake filled with Mexican lime curd cream (You might remember said limes from this post. I preserved some curd for later use.)
  • Mini turnovers made of my UT blueberries
  • In addition, I had some leftover pork loin from earlier in the week, but not enough to turn it into a party item.
So you see, I had a LOT of food to process. Certain things can be tossed in the freezer as is - the turnovers, the pastry spirals, the cake (only a few pieces of each left, anyway.) Somehow they will be more enjoyable when "there's nothing in the house" to eat. Call it Christmas in March. The spinach and feta were a no brainer - Greek pielets. The tapenade? Another pastry spiral to be pulled out of the freezer when I find myself needing something clever without the time to produce it. The artichoke dip is lovely spread on a hot ham sandwich using ham left over from the pastry spiral project. The meatballs were frozen into little portions just right for a spicy taco. The truffles surprised me. I don't feel like a good hostess unless I make something intensely chocolate for my guests, even though I personally prefer the blueberry turnovers. But I guess the rest of my guests agreed, because I have loads of truffles left. Into the freezer they go, and will likely come back out as ganache for a cake. That's what they are made of, in the first place.

The real reincarnation happened with the pork loin and the mushrooms. The mushrooms are now contained within pasta in the form of ravioli. Homemade ravioli are so easy (once they make it to the freezer) and are one of my favorite elegant quick dinners. The pork loin became something I've wanted to make for a long time - char siu bao, or Chinese steamed pork buns. I've made the buns before, but never with pork. Wow - they are good! So much better than the original roast pork. (The roast was a few degrees over done in my opinion, and unless meat is done exactly to my taste, I hardly want to take the trouble to eat it.) I minced and shredded the pork as finely as possible, tossed in some mushrooms (yes, leftover!), added lots of garlic, ginger, soy, a dash of sesame oil, hot sauce and scallions. All this gets tucked into cute little buns of simple bread dough which is then steamed. They grow enormously in the steamer (I never fail to gasp when I open the lid), and come out as the original Wonder Bread (soft and white, but in a good way) with a moist savory surprise within.

What does this have to do with riding? Nothing. I haven't been riding in ages. I wonder if I even remember how. But I am going this Saturday no matter what. And my char siu bao are coming with me.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

When did you turn into a Top Chef? All sounds delish! Well, other than the pork. And mushrooms. But other than that? I would love to come over and raid your freezer! Speaking of which - tentatively planning a Phoenix trip for weekend of March 7th. Will keep you posted! Oh - the I Likey box? Found it somewhere on the blog dashboard but can't remember where! Gah!